As usual, the editor has gone over the top in cheer-leading for the Selectmen’s Brewster Hall plans. He discredits the voter rejection of their agenda last March by saying that only 29% voted. There’s an old saying: “Decisions are made by the people who show up”. These are the same people who show up every year and do the town’s business.
But OK, this is his fantasy, so let’s say that 29% is a little light. What if we had a normal turnout of say 33% and ALL OF THE ADDITIONAL VOTERS APPROVED of the Friend’s agenda? That would increase the approval from 48% to 54%. You need 60% to do a $4 million project.
The editor goes on to say that even though the Friends agenda was only supported by a minority of 48%, a subsequent question about funding indicated 51% were in favor of public/private funding. That’s a stretch too because fewer voters answered the question, and fewer voters actually supported public/private funding (622) than the 48% that supported restoration (627). Probably many of those who said no to restoration (680) didn’t bother to say no to public/private funding (598) of a restoration that they already said they don’t support.
But the editor also makes the bold claim that the Friends may raise enough money to pay for the whole $4 million project. I don’t know where he gets his information but there was no mention at the Selectmen’s meeting of how much the Friends were targeting or expecting to raise. They didn’t seem to care about that detail. It’s no secret that the chairman pretty much runs the efforts of the Friends of Brewster Hall, and she rides herd over the CIP committee. They have earmarked $4 million of public funding for the project. We’ve been hearing threats of private funding and grants for six years and it’s getting old. Meanwhile the taxpayers have put more than $800,000 into the schemes of the Friends and have little to show for it.
The Selectmen and CIP have no justification for making a $4 million commitment to restoration, and they certainly have no justification for handing the project over to the Friends to plan and develop in private. There are other reasonable ways to deal with the Brewster Hall problem. A majority of Wolfeboro voters are being disenfranchised by the Selectmen’s refusal to address this issue openly and publicly.
Bob, I believe any committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen are required to post their meeting dates , keep minutes of their meetings and otherwise comply with the New Hampshire’s right to know law.
I want to be clear. I don’t think the Friends should be doing this at all, publicly or privately. They want to keep offices in that building, fine. But that doesn’t mean we have to do a $4 million project. We can spend significantly less than a million dollars to make the working conditions much better and comply with all of the fire and ADA issues. It could be done already with the $800,000 they’ve blown on award winning Boston architects and slipshod repairs. I think that’s what the voters have in mind and we ought to get about doing that as efficiently and cost effectively as we can.